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Healthy coping skills are important to any human -being, but in particular for those that are ill. We will all face stressors, bad news, difficult situations, and unfortunate losses. The question is, what do you do to cope with those times?

Now, there are many different types of techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, exercise, yoga, talking to a therapist, heck, just reading a book that can be a great way to cope. But, what is your escape? Where can you go or what can you do to completely remove yourself in a healthy way for freedom and enjoyment? Understanding there are times this simply cannot be achieved, I would have to say that over the course of a year I really need some time to escape and leave all of my troubles behind. I suspect this is the case for others as well.

I’ve had the good fortune of having an escape for most of my life. Growing up at cottages and being a scout leader, I had the advantage of developing outdoor skills that have allowed me the opportunity to become intimate with nature through camping trips and other expeditions. Four years ago I took up sea kayaking, which is an escape itself. But I added my camping skills, learned about weather and navigation and Bingo, I have an escape! At least once a year, if not twice, I disappear into the wilderness for at least 7 days with no cell phones or computers, no disruptions, no contact with the outside world. It’s just me, my gear and my camp mates thriving in the wilderness, playing like kids in our boats and over the beaches and rocks.

ImageThe joy that this gives me in almost indescribable as I spend my time concerned only about the elements and fitting my gear back into my boat. Meals taste better, I feel stronger physically and mentally, and my campmates are a source of many laughs and companionship. When I return from these trips I am energized, inspired, strengthened and ready for whatever the world or my illness has to throw at me. My ability to thrive in challenging, yet beautiful surroundings shows me I am stronger than I think I am and the mental escape from all demands and distractions just seems healing for my brain.

That’s my escape, tell me about yours? What does that escape do for you? How did you come to discover your escape?

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